- Kick from your hips, not from your knees.
- Keep your toes pointed backwards not downwards, with the soles of your feet facing upwards. Also think of keeping your legs long.
- Bend your knees slightly as you kick downwards.
- Keep your legs straighter as you bring your feet back up towards the surface.
- Kick on front (kickboard): Hold a kickboard out in front of you, from the bottom with both hands. Start kicking your legs from the hips as explained above and every 6-8 kicks lift your head slowly to breathe but keep your hips high in the water. Return to starting position and continue in the same pattern.
- Kick on front (without a kickboard): Start with your arms extended ahead of you. Carry out the drill in the same way as the previous drill but without a kickboard. Keep your arms near the surface and try not to let them drop, especially when you lift your head for a breath.
- Kicks with bilateral breathing (Kickboard): Hold the kickboard out in front of you, from the bottom edge, with one hand and the other beside your hip. Start kicking your legs and every 6-8 kicks turn your head to the side (do not lift), so that the back of your head rests beside your arm. Turn your head to enter the water and exhale slowly for 6-8 kicks and start again. (same on the opposite side)
- Kicks with bilateral breathing (without a kickboard): Extend one arm out in front of you, while keeping the other extended back beside your hip. Carry out the drill the same way as the previous drill without a kickboard. Keep your arm near the surface at all times, especially when your head turns to take a breath.
- Bilateral breathing with arms down (without a kickboard): Start kicking your legs with your arms beside your hips and your face in the water. Every 6-8 kicks turn your head (do not lift!) and upper body to the right to take a breath and return to starting position to exhale. Repeat on your left side.
- Flutter kicks: Hold the kickboard from the top and let your forearms rest on it. Avoid pushing down on it and try to lay on it with shoulders and arms relaxed. This will allow the rest of your body to stay in a horizontal position. Start kicking your legs and propel your body through the water.
- Extend each arm forward and slightly downward along the imaginary tracks of the shoulders. Press back in a straight line (no ‘S’ shaped pull) and relax on the recovery. Recovery is the movement that returns the hand from where it exits the water near your hips to where it re-enters in front of your shoulder.
- Aim for symmetry between your two arms.
- Keep your core engaged to minimize any wobbles or lateral movements.
- Drive your strokes from the core, not your arms.
- Arm Circles from the top: Hold the kickboard from the top with one hand while the other performs continuous strokes. Try to enter the water and extend the arm further than the kickboard, pull slightly down and back and then push the water back, extending the arm all the way to the hips. Repeat with the other arm.
- Arm circles from the bottom: Hold the kickboard from the bottom with both arms with your face in the water and start kicking your legs. Perform one stroke with each arm and then lift your head forward to take a breath. Lower your face back into the water and start again.
- Arm circles with bilateral breathing from the bottom: Hold the kickboard from the bottom edge with both hands. Start kicking with your legs with your face in the water. As one arm starts to pull for the stroke the head simultaneously turns to the side to breathe. As the arm starts the recovery the head and hand return to starting position. Repeat with the other arm.
- Arm circles with bilateral breathing to the right or left only: Hold the kickboard from the bottom and with both hands and start kicking your legs with your face in the water. Perform continuous alternating strokes, taking breaths only on the right side. Carry out the same drill, taking breaths only on the left side.
- Bilateral breathing every 3 strokes: Hold the kickboard from the bottom with both hands, face in the water and start kicking. Perform continuous alternating strokes taking a breath every 3rd stroke.
- Arm circles with bilateral breathing (same as number three from the kickboard stroke drills but without a kickboard): Start with both arms extended out in front of you. Keep left arm close to the surface when the right arm is performing the stroke and keep your head down against the left arm while taking the breath. When the arm returns to starting position count 6-8 kicks before repeating on the other side.
- Arm circles with bilateral breathing to the right or left only (same as number 4 from the kickboard stroke drills without a kickboard): Start with both arms extended out in front of you. Perform continuous strokes with the right arm and take a breath every 2nd stroke. The left arm must stay near the surface.
- Arm circles with bilateral breathing every 3 strokes (same as number 5 from the kickboard stroke drills without the kickboard): In this drill one hand waits for the other out in front of before starting the stroke. Every third stroke, take a breath.
- Right side- Left side: Perform strokes only with the right arm for a whole length while the other arm is extended beside your hip. Take a breath every 2nd stroke. Repeat with the left arm.
- Drag drill: For this drill swim just as you would in stroke drill 3, with the only difference being, that you drag your fingertips on the surface of the water during the recovery of the arm. Try to keep your forearms relaxed as if they were hanging.
- Keep your head in line with your trunk in a neutral position and look straight down. This helps you to keep your body horizontal in the water, creates the least amount on drag and also prevents neck injuries. An alternative is to look slightly forward from the corners of your eyes while keeping your head in a neutral position.
- Roll your body. Allow your body to roll freely from side to side, following the movements of your arms. Rolling from side to side allows you to engage large muscle groups (chest, back, abs in addition to shoulders and legs) and consequently improve your propulsion. While your body rolls, your head should remain static, looking straight down, except when breathing.
- To breathe in, you roll farther on your side than during the non-breathing arm strokes. Your head simply follows along your body then rolls a little bit farther until your mouth clears the water so you can inhale.
- To breathe with ease, keep air exchange constant. Start exhaling as soon as you have inhaled and make exhaling the primary focus of the breath. Avoid overfilling your lungs. Inhale just enough.
Marina-Anastasia Athanasiadou, BSc, MSc, CYQ Central YMCA
MSc in Exercise Rehabilitation, Bangor University, Wales.
BSc in Sports Science, Democritus University of Thrace, majors in Swimming and Exercise
Certificate in Fitness Instructing (Gym Instructor Level 2, CYQ: Central YMCA qualifications, Fitness Wales)